Are you there, New Prospective Date/Girlfriend? It's me. The Ex-Wife. I'm not sure if you exist yet fully, but to all the women looking to get romantically involved with my ex, I figured I would send out the messenger pigeon. New Prospective Date/Girlfriend: I know you were hoping to not hear from me. Goodness knows I was hoping to not hear about one of you either. I know it's rude to say "one of you," but frankly, who knows how long you will be around? Whether it's two minutes, two months, two years, or forever, I think I have some good advice for you. Since I've already been there as the wife, I think it couldn't hurt to heed my advice. Here are some things for you to consider:
I'm Sorry If I Don't Like You (at Least Not Right Away)
Some people have been divorced for ages, but me, I am still legally married, you see, and in the process of divorce. It's taken awhile because, well, some of us are not that eager to end almost eight years of love and commitment. Possibly both of us are not that eager. So the whole idea of another female, whether a date or a girlfriend, on the territory, well, that just causes me to want to piss somewhere.
Thankfully, I have some manners and live in a first-world country with access to a toilet. See, you could be a totally wonderful human being (or perhaps not — it's not like I have a say), and it wouldn't quite matter. I'm still not going to be warm to you. It will probably take superhuman-like strength for me to even say a few words to you if I happen to meet you. I may also vomit in your presence out of nerves, but will do my best to miss your shoes. That's just ugly right there. I won't slash your tires or go psycho on you. I'm polite. And I won't ream you out in public, but I kinda don't like you. I feel bad about that — Jewish/Catholic combo guilt maybe? — but it is what it is. To me, you signal the end of my family as I know it, and that makes me very sad. Respect that. Don't cozy up to me. I won't respond well. You can have your space, and right over here where it says "ex-wife's space" is where I will be. Please don't step over that line. When and if I am ready to do manis and pedis with you, I'll let you know. Today's not your lucky day for that, though.
My Kid? No, Thank You
One day, Potential Woman, if you stick around, you will get the privilege to meet my kid. But for now, you're just a thought. You haven't gained permanence — yet. So with that said, I would ask you to avoid meeting my child. My child still wants her parents together. My child was upset when she learned she would have two Thanksgivings. My child is 3 1/2, and marriage is a fairy tale to her, and two separate homes with two separate lives is not the fairy tale she was looking for. Please stay away until she is ready to face a totally new reality. If not, you may face the wrath of a mother scorned, which is almost as bad as an ex-wife scorned. It's nothing personal, but honestly, you come after her. Her needs are the priority. When she is ready to meet you, she will, and I will ask her to be respectful, if you indeed are respectful to her. In my house, kids don't just respect someone because he or she is older: kids give respect when they are respected and loved back.
It Takes Two
You probably heard I was a pain in the ass. I was. Sometimes. It takes two to tango, so if you hear bad things about me, please remember that I didn't exist in a vacuum. There's a side to every story, and there were things said or done that hurt me very much. He probably won't share those things with you, and that's OK. The fact is I am pretty nice. I am the person who crazy people talk to because I have that naive face. Sometimes no matter how hard you try, a marriage doesn't work. Sometimes, two totally lovely people just can't make it work no matter how many times one person begs the other or the two do therapy or separate . . . It just doesn't always work. Apparently, Disney forgot that memo: that not everyone leaves the ball with the prince she entered with. Some of us leave alone.
I don't want a divorce, but that's not how the cards were dealt for me. So before you think I am a two-headed, fanged beast, remember that there was another person involved in those arguments and scenarios and that while I may not be right for my ex, someone else may think I am just right.
He's Not Damaged
With that said, just because my ex — your new interest — divorced me doesn't mean he is damaged goods. Sure, he has his bad traits, but so do I. He's a good person and deserves to have another shot at love, even if that thought sickens my heart. He did not exist in a vacuum. There are two sides to every story, and while I think he needs to be cautious with girl No. 2 (as I do for dude No. 2), he is a good person. Give him a shot, Prospective Babe.
The Bad Times
There are going to be times when your relationship with my ex will suck. It's not if it will happen, but a matter of when it will happen. When it does, remember all of the good reasons you decided to like him. If there is something about him that you don't like now, accept it or walk away. He won't change just as much as you won't change. All I could ask from someone myself is to accept me as me and not expect me to become someone different — someone he imagined I should be. See the good always, unless it's really god-darn awful, and remember that this too shall pass. Remember the reasons you decided to invest in him. I wish often that someone remembered why I was once special. The blatant truth is the grass isn't greener on the other side, so if you become someone permanent, plan to be permanent. My kid doesn't need another loss in her life. If you decide to sign on for a membership, read all the fine print and stick to your word.
For now, that's all I have to offer. If you manage to get promoted from Prospective Date or Potential New Girlfriend to an actual person who will matter in his life and possible my daughter's — which also, whether you like it or not, means my life as well — I will be sure to hand out additional guidelines for my child's sake, because no matter what . . . even if my ex is over me, we made a special kid together, and it's our job to raise her together.
In other words, you're stuck with me, girl!
With skeptical regard and polite consideration,